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Stories by TCF Recipients & Alumni

A Journey to What Matters- Culture Box: Art Kits for Youth

 Culture Box: Art Kits for Youth A Journey to What Matters Grantee: Alaska Native Heritage Center In the midst of a world pandemic, the world we knew then came to a halt and the impact was devastating to the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC). In the spirit of our Alaska Native Heritage Center Ten Universal Values, we give much respect and gratitude to The CIRI Foundation (TCF) for demonstrating similar values when it reached out to ANHC with an invitational grant for an Art Kits for Youth project.ANHC is a living cultural center that promotes active creation of art, featuring permanent collections and educational programs. Knowing that kids were out of school, and parents now found themselves in the position of having to work from home, be teachers for their kids, and make sure the kids have safe activities, ANHC did what we could immediately. Via our Facebook page, we began offering live streams/recordings of Alaska Native storytellers from all over the state, art activities like animal masks and snow visors that could be done with materials found around the house, and cooking videos. When the ANHC Team were brought together to visualize, develop and support the Art Kits for Youth project, the idea of a Culture Box was born. At its core, the Culture Box, Art Kits for Youth, is fundamentally connected to ANHC’s mission to preserve and strengthen the traditions, languages, and art of Alaska Native People through statewide collaboration, celebration and education.    The intended audience for the Culture Box project is the K-12 Alaska Native student population. Our approach to this project was inclusive of the various learning levels of those who would be enjoying and utilizing the Culture Box. And who better to have inform the work than those closest to the work, our ANHC Interns who produced more than 800 individual pieces of age appropriate art for anyone in the K-12th grade; although we did hear from parents how much they enjoyed and felt connected to being an Alaska Native through the Culture Box project and shared comments like, “This was an awesome experience!” or “Wish I had this when I was a young child.”The Culture Boxes have had a far reaching impact on the intended audience and beyond. Culture Boxes were requested from all across the state of Alaska and the lower 48. The 250 Culture Boxes were created, on time, within budget, and steeped in the philosophy of quality verse quantity. For example, in the necklace project we use real glass beads vs plastic or seal fur vs fake fur.Of those who completed the post project survey, 100% indicated they became more aware of Alaska Native art and culture; 90% indicated significant increase in knowledge and 90% of the responses indicated they were able to participate in cultural activities that otherwise would not have been available to them.On behalf of ANHC, Quyanaqpak, thank you very much for entrusting us with this exciting project. We deeply value our partnership with TCF! Downloads from Alaska Native Heritage Center
By |February 1st, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Culture Box: Art Kits for Youth
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    A Journey to What Matters- Artist in Residency at Anchorage Museum: Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn 

A Journey to What Matters- Artist in Residency at Anchorage Museum: Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn 

Artist in Residency at Anchorage Museum:  Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn  A Journey to What Matters Grantee: Anchorage Museum, Story by Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn Block and test print of Release, my project for the residency. During my month in residency with the Anchorage Museum I chose to work on one specific lino carving. It was interesting for me to have to slow down and think about my process and then step by step share that with people via social media. For the first time I did time lapse videos and other videos of the actual carve and I think it really allowed me a new way to connect with people, allowed them to see the time and effort put into a piece as well as challenged all of my areas of comfort by forcing me to open up about my work. Over all I am very happy with my experience with this residency. I think it opened me up to new ways of sharing that I will continue on and allowed me the time to take a step up in my carving process.Thank you for this. Learn more about Sarah’s artist-in-residency courtesy of Anchorage Museum in their blog and livestream. Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |January 29th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Artist in Residency at Anchorage Museum: Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn 
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    A Journey to What Matters- Protection: Adaptation and Resistance Workshops in Customary Arts

A Journey to What Matters- Protection: Adaptation and Resistance Workshops in Customary Arts

Protection: Adaptation and Resistance Workshops in Customary Arts A Journey to What Matters Grantee: Bunnell Street Arts Center, Story by Asia Freeman Energized by movements for social justice, concerned about climate change impacts on cultural survival, and sobered by the ongoing pandemic, Bunnell Street Arts Center present ed workshops by and for Indigenous Alaska artists addressing the theme of “Protection” featuring regalia, wearable art, sculpture, songs and masks. The workshops reflect Bunnell’s ongoing work to resist the colonization of Alaska and shift the conversation from how people used to live to how contemporary Indigenous art forms offer cultural protection today. The workshops were funded by The CIRI Foundation’s A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Art & Culture grant program and Alaska Community Foundation Corona Virus Relief Fund.Joel Isaak (Dena’ina, Alaska) served as the project’s Cultural Advisor. Joel Isaak’s family is from the village of Ch’aghałnikt (Point Possession) and currently lives in Soldotna, Alaska. He shared the following: “Our lifeways, material culture, and protocols serve as armor to resist efforts to exterminate us. They are rooted in the power to unite and create space for all people. When we break down the efforts of those who work to silo, segregate, and discriminate there is space for all people and all living things. In an environment that seeks to destroy the living, valuing life has become a powerful form of resistance.” Workshop DescriptionsSewing a traditional “trapper hat” of otter fur with Yup’ik artist Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams as a way to explore Yup’ik culture and philosophy of reciprocity between human, plant, animal and spiritual worldsLower Tanana Denakenaga’ Songmaking with David Engels, who has studied this art for the past twenty years, beginning with his grandmother;Atikluk (snow shirt) Making with Bobby Itta, who loves to create customary art with a modern twist;Chilkat Weaver Lily Hope lead a cohort of Chilkat weavers in hand-twining a Chilkat Protector Mask from start to finishMarjorie Kunaq Tahbone (Inupiaq and Kiowa, Nome) taught an intergenerational workshop on how to carve naniq (seal oil lamp) using soapstone and hand tools.Due to a medical emergency, Benjamin Charles (Bethel) postponed his workshop on carving a customary Yup’ik mask, using positive and negative space to modern carving tools and wood properties. Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |January 29th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Protection: Adaptation and Resistance Workshops in Customary Arts

A Journey to What Matters- Prenatal Beaded Earring Workshop

A Journey To What Matters: Prenatal Beaded Earring Workshop  Grantee: Alaska Native Birthworkers Community, Story by Helena Jacobs The CIRI Foundation, through its A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Art & Culture grant program, partnered with the Alaska Native Birthworkers Community to offer a prenatal beaded earring workshop for Native birthing families. We procured, assembled and distributed 30 complete kits with all the supplies needed to make two pairs of beaded earrings, and hired Gwich’in artist Rochelle Adams to prepare the supply list, instruction sheet, and teach a live workshop on November 14, 2020.We recorded the workshop and distributed it afterward to everyone who registered so folks who were not able to make this date could watch the step-by-step instructional recording and make earrings on their own. Our goal was to provide Alaska Native families with a culturally enriching opportunity while awaiting their new baby, to build community, and to celebrate our arts and cultures as Indigenous peoples. Quotes from participants on the impact of this workshop include:“It started my beading journey which I am very grateful for and helped connect me to other indigenous women which is really comforting especially in this time of social distancing. ““This gave me something new and fun to look forward to during my pregnancy and during the pandemic, while safely being at home and keeping myself busy.”“I loved learning a new skill and knowing that I can one day teach my own children.”We are now using this model to plan other similar teaching and community building virtual workshops.  Learn more about our work at www.nativebirthworkers.org. Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |January 29th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Prenatal Beaded Earring Workshop
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Traditional and Contemporary Skin Sewing with Marine Mammals

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Traditional and Contemporary Skin Sewing with Marine Mammals

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership ARTShops 2020 Traditional and Contemporary Skin Sewing with Marine Mammals Story by Raven Cunningham The ARTShops program is a collaboration between the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation and The CIRI Foundation’s A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Arts and Culture grant program. Established in 2016, ARTShops support emerging Alaska Native arts leaders to develop their skills in leading community-based arts programs. With generous support from the ARTShop program I was able to provide education about present day threats to Alaska Native peoples, as well as traditional and contemporary ways of hunting, skinning, skin stretching, and sewing of marine mammals, specifically seal skins. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, I was unable to host a class to teach in person, so I had to focus on personally outreaching to people who were interested. I worked with a few people within my community and within the State of Alaska sending them seal skins and teaching them how to stretch with video and written instruction. It was amazing to see these different individuals not only learn this skill, but some were able to take it and teach others through their social media platforms.  Eventually I plan to use the marine mammal skins that I processed to create a piece of art to donate to the Native Village of Eyak. I have a good majority of the project done, and will continue to work on the beading and finishing touches to the project. I plan on finishing out the project myself when I can, or if there is time where I can connect with other local artists within my Tribe to finish it together. After graduation I plan on continuing teaching the traditional ways of our people and how to practice these skills in our contemporary lives. I hope to also spread awareness of the issue of blood quantum and how it greatly affects our Native communities. Marine mammals are a crucial and essential part of Alaska Native lives. It appears that the United States government created blood quantum as a way to assimilate and terminate Native people. Blood quantum is a hidden safety net that is placed into the fabric of treaties to ensure that benefits would be terminated. The moment when tribal members are no longer Native enough based on colonial tactics that were established to assimilate is the moment Indigenous people are bred out of existence. Follow Raven Cunningham's Work Here
By |December 14th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Traditional and Contemporary Skin Sewing with Marine Mammals

Education Project Grant- Color of Justice During a Pandemic

Color of Justice During a Pandemic Grantee: Alaska Native Justice Center, Story by Sara Martinchick, ANJC Office Manager The Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) hosted a two day Color of Justice program with support from The CIRI Foundation and in partnership with the Alaska Court System. Due to the pandemic in 2020, we adjusted the Color of Justice program to a hybrid model. The hybrid model of delivery enabled the program to be virtual and safe for all presenters and participants. All of the presentations were done virtual and majority of the students attended virtually, with four youth participating in-person while following all mandates and safety measures.Although the pandemic created several barriers for the program, ANJC and the Alaska Court System were innovative with adjusting the programing to virtual using the Zoom platform. The Color of Justice Program consisted of several presentations and interactive activates such as Ice Breakers, Mentor Jet: A Speed Mentoring Experience, You be the Judge!, and Constitutional Cranium. Judge Pamela Washington, a local judge with the Alaska Court System, was vital in creating the curriculum for the program and brought several years of experience in hosting the Color of Justice.Welcoming remarks were made by the Honorable Susan Carney, Judge Pamela Washington and ANJC Senior Director of Operations Tammy Ashley (TCF recipient). ANJC staff were vital to the success of the program. Office Manager Sara Martinchick coordinated all aspects of the programming in conjunction with Judge Washington and Youth Program Youth Advocate Michael Farahjood hosted the Ice breaker each day. During the Mentor Jet several Judges, Attorneys, and Professors met with the students sharing their own personal experiences, why they started working in the justice field, also answering several questions asked by the students.A total of 17 youth participated; 2 were CIRI descendants and 1 was from the Bering Straits Native Corporation and 14 did not disclose. Working with the Southcentral Foundation Pathway Home Program, several of their students were able to attend virtually. One student said “The Color of Justice Program has shown me about the several careers that I could possibly have in the justice field and has sparked my interest in perusing one.”Working together with the Alaska Court System, we were able to host the first virtual Color of Justice program in Alaska. ANJC was the “pilot project” for the Virtual Color of Justice to see if this was a feasible new way of hosting this opportunity. With the assistance of our partners, ANJC was able to successfully pave the way for hosting the virtual model of delivery for the Color of Justice. Since the event, word of the success of our program has been shared, and ANJC has been contacted by out-of-state Youth Court programs for guidance on their program.Moving forward, ANJC looks forward to this new model of delivery, and hopes to engage more youth in additional rural areas to attend in future Color of Justice events.
By |December 14th, 2020|Education, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on Education Project Grant- Color of Justice During a Pandemic

Heritage Project Grant- Live Radio Amid the Pandemic

Live Radio Amid the Pandemic Grantee: Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, Story by Antonia Gonzales, Host & Produce National Native News I’ve been traveling to Alaska for more than a decade to help produce and host radio programs during KNBA’s annual gavel-to-gavel broadcast of the Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention. This year’s broadcast was one of a kind. We have all adjusted to life during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our 2020 broadcast was also an adjustment. I’m proud to have been part of making it happen.Our 2020 coverage consisted of a live broadcast from KNBA with a skeleton crew. I hosted the daily gavel-to-gavel coverage and the noon show. The convention broadcast is usually bustling with producers, hosts and guest on site of the AFN gathering.This year, we delivered a play-by-play of the AFN virtual convention in real time on the radio. Our noon hour show “Alaska’s Native Voice,” which is normally live, was prerecorded due to COVID-19 and played twice a day this year. Our broadcast days were also scaled back to two.I’m very proud of the work we were able to do this year-both live and prerecorded. We were still able to engage listeners on the radio tuned-in in communities across Alaska about the happenings of the AFN. We had dialog on our noon hour program with guests talking directly about Alaska Native issues. We were also able to bring in guests by telephone to be interviewed live on air. I think our creativity was shown in the work and we were able to adjust to a new way of hosting and producing the annual broadcast amid the pandemic.
By |December 1st, 2020|Education, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on Heritage Project Grant- Live Radio Amid the Pandemic
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    A Journey to What Matters- 2020 Elders & Youth: Living and Loving our Cultures Workshop

A Journey to What Matters- 2020 Elders & Youth: Living and Loving our Cultures Workshop

2020 Elders & Youth: Living & Loving our Cultures WorkshopStory by: Helena Jacobs My mother, four of my children, and I were all blessed with the opportunity to participate in the first ever virtual FAI Elders & Youth Conference Living & Loving our Cultures workshops this year! My daughters and I were set up on a zoom call in our dining room doing the “Painting Our Ways of Life” workshop with Sylvia Lange (Tlingit) doing acrylic painting on canvas, my mom and son were set up on a Zoom call in our living room doing the “Cedar Bracelet Making” workshop with Debbie McLavey (Haida) and RoMay Edenshaw (Haida), and my other son was set up on a Zoom call in my office doing the “COVID-19 Mask Sewing” workshop with Mellisa Johnson (Inupiaq).Sylvia asked each virtual workshop participant to choose something we wanted to paint, and then encouraged us and answered questions throughout. She shared about mixing paints, color theory, contrast, and techniques with different brushes or materials, while showing many examples of her work. It was so fun!In reflecting on this workshop, my 7 year old said there were so many cool designs that people chose that had different patterns and colors that she felt inspired seeing what they made. She said it felt good to be able to be free to paint whatever she wanted. She had fun and loved this activity so much that she wanted to go to her grandpa’s house the next week to participate in a paint night activity led by Sugpiaq artist Sara Squartsoff online. As we were preparing our painting stations, my five year old excitedly exclaimed, “this is going to be the best day of my life!” because she was so excited to do this activity with her mom and her older sister.Enaa baasee’ to The CIRI Foundation, to First Alaskans Institute, and to all our instructors and peers for this amazing opportunity! Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |November 24th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- 2020 Elders & Youth: Living and Loving our Cultures Workshop
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    A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2020

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2020

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2020 Parka Ruff and Trim Class The ARTShops program is a collaboration between the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation and The CIRI Foundation’s A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Arts and Culture grant program. Established in 2016, ARTShops support emerging Alaska Native arts leaders to develop their skills in leading community-based arts programs. Bobby teaching via Zoom Graduate ARTShops 2020Parka Ruff and Trim Class: VirtuallyStory by: Bobby Itta, ARTShop Leader For my Graduate ARTShop project, I taught a two-day parka ruff and trim class using Zoom. Five students participated from Anchorage, Seldovia, and Utqiagvik. On the first day, students learned how to stretch an animal hide of their choice. On day two, I went over how to draw, cut, and sew a ruff. It was a little difficult to teach on-line, as I usually teach in a classroom and can share more details in person, but overall the class was great and I had awesome students! Being able to make clothing is an important skill for people to learn, so that they can learn to keep themselves warm and pass down their skills to their children or family. I learned from my mom, who learned from my grandmother. I am happy to be able to share what I know with others. Follow Bobby Itta's Work Here Participant Danyel Harvey with her completed ruff
By |November 20th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2020

Heritage Project Grant- Production of “The Storyteller”

Project: "The Storyteller" Arts and Culture Initiative: Production and Initial Outreach Grantee: Koahnic Broadcast CorporationStory by John Sallee (TCF Recipient) The Storyteller is a 15-episode audio series produced by Koahnic Broadcast Corporation. The project aimed to revitalize old folktales and stories from Alaska Native people. As the lead producer, it was my job to bring these old stories back to the ears and eyes of the new generation in a modern and fresh way. The concept behind the series relies on the character, the Storyteller, who serves as the host of the series. Not only does the Storyteller hold a collection of stories from Alaska’s original peoples, but they serve as the interface of the series. The website, nativestoryteller.org, will serve as the base for all media involved with the project. This multimedia project includes shadow animation, a podcast, and an interactive website. This project has been the biggest learning experience of my life, educationally and professionally. Working with a graphic designer, shadow animator, website designer and Alaska Native artists simultaneously has been a great learning experience. Not only did this project involve production work, but it involved behind the scenes work such as creative direction, marketing, contract writing and corporate outreach. Listening and editing these stories has been a joy, as not only have I rediscovered these folktales but it even gives me a sense of pride in my culture. While this series was mainly to be audio, I believe these folktales needed to align with modern technology by providing various visual mediums. Production Art by Steven Hammack Premier animated story by Patricia Wade, “An Athabascan Story of Denali”
By |November 9th, 2020|Featured Posts, Heritage, Project Grant|Comments Off on Heritage Project Grant- Production of “The Storyteller”